Tuesdays at Cheongster Cafe: Exam fever is here again!
by Felix Cheong
“WHAT do you mean, out of stock?” Jessica Poon almost screamed at the salesgirl.
It was not normally her scene to make a scene. But she only had two more months and she had already tired her soles out by trudging the length and breadth of town. This bookstore, of all bookstores, should carry it. It was the only reason why it was popular.
“Ma’am, we sold our last copy of Math 10-year series yesterday,” said the salesgirl matter-of-factly, so deadpan she could have survived a zombie apocalypse as one of them.
Jessica was understandably ballistic. She had already bought the 10-year series for – in alphabetical order – Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Economics, General Paper, Literature and Physics. For good measure, she had even collected the Malay language papers – just in case.
“To be prepared is to be well-prepared,” her late father had once drummed into her. “Always remember to have enough reserves – just in case.”
As a scenario planner in the Government, Mr Poon had long inculcated in his children the virtues of stockpiling for a rainy day. He himself was a living example of this mantra. When, at 45, he died of a heart attack – sudden but not altogether unexpected – he had already amassed more than 20 insurance policies, and policies that covered other policies. By then, he had already had two coffins custom-made: one if his height remained the same and the other, if he suffered from osteoporosis. Just in case. He even had five suitors lined up for his widow. Just in case.
Of his four children, Jessica was the only one who took after him. As a toddler, she would squirrel away toys and cartons of milk all over the house. Just in case. As a teenager, she would have double of everything, even her pink IC. Just in case.
As Jessica sat herself down at the nearest coffee shop, catching her breath, she felt a kick in her belly. Fondling her baby bump, she leaned in and whispered.
“Don’t worry, Joshua. Mummy will get you your Math 10-year series. Everything will be ready when you come out.”
Joshua must have been placated, for he gave her a second kick – just in case she had not felt the first.
Featured image by Guet Ghee Pang.
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